President Donald Trump speaks about the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks about the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump says he wants stronger gun checks, gives few details

Trump spoke Monday from the White House about shootings that left 29 dead and dozens wounded

President Donald Trump on Monday condemned weekend shootings in Texas and Ohio as barbaric crimes “against all humanity” and called for bipartisan co-operation to respond to an epidemic of gun violence.

Trump said he wants legislation providing “strong background checks” for gun users, but he provided scant details and has reneged on previous promises after mass shootings.

“We vow to act with urgent resolve,” Trump said Monday.

Trump spoke Monday from the White House about shootings that left 29 dead and dozens wounded. He suggested early on Twitter that a background check bill could be paired with his long-sought effort to toughen the nation’s immigration system.

But he didn’t say how or why he was connecting the issues. Both shooting suspects were U.S. citizens, and federal officials are investigating anti-immigrant bias as a potential motive for the El Paso, Texas, massacre.

READ MORE: El Paso suspect appears to have posted anti-immigrant screed

“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump said, adding that he had directed the FBI to examine steps to identify and address domestic terrorism. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America,” he said.

Trump has frequently sought to tie his immigration priorities — a border wall and transforming the legal immigration system to one that prioritizes merit over familial ties — to legislation around which he perceives momentum to be building.

Trump offered few specific solutions to address violence, and signalled he would oppose large-scale gun control efforts pushed by Democrats, saying, “hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”

READ MORE: 9 killed in Ohio in second U.S. mass shooting within 24 hours

Trump called for law enforcement and social media companies to do more to combat extremism and spot warning signs of violence online. He also called for a reduction in the “glorification” of violence in American culture, laws to make it easier to commit those with mental illness and “red flag laws” to separate such individuals from firearms.

Trump also directed the Department of Justice to seek and prioritize the enforcement of the death penalty in cases of hate crimes and mass shootings.

Over the weekend, Trump tried to assure Americans he was dealing with the problem and defended his administration in light of criticism following the latest in a string of mass shootings.

“We have done much more than most administrations,” he said, without elaboration. “We have done actually a lot. But perhaps more has to be done.”

Congress has proven unable to pass substantial gun violence legislation this session, despite the frequency of mass shootings, in large part because of resistance from Republicans, particularly in the GOP-controlled Senate. That political dynamic seems difficult to change.

And Trump himself has reneged on previous pledges to strengthen gun laws.

After other mass shootings he called for strengthening the federal background check system, and in 2018 he signed legislation to increase federal agency data sharing into the system. But he has resisted Democratic calls to toughen other gun control laws.

In February, the House approved bipartisan legislation to require federal background checks for all gun sales and transfers and approved legislation to allow a review period of up to 10 days for background checks on firearms purchases. The White House threatened a presidential veto if those measures passed Congress.

READ MORE: Life in public-shooting-era America: ‘You can’t just not go’

At a February meeting with survivors and family members of the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting in which 17 people died, Trump promised to be “very strong on background checks.”

Trump claimed he would stand up to the gun lobby and finally get results in quelling gun violence. But he later retreated, expressing support for modest changes to the federal background check system and for arming teachers.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer tweeted that if Trump is serious about strengthening background checks, he should demand Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “put the bipartisan, House-passed universal background checks bill up for a vote.”

In the El Paso attack, investigators are focusing on whether it was a hate crime after the emergence of a racist, anti-immigrant screed that was posted online shortly beforehand. Detectives sought to determine if it was written by the man who was arrested. The border city has figured prominently in the immigration debate and is home to 680,000 people, most of them Latino.

On Twitter Monday, Trump seemed to deflect from scrutiny over the manifesto, which had language mirroring some of his own. As Democrats have called on Trump to tone down his rhetoric, Trump blamed the news media for the nation’s woes.

“Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years,” he claimed

As Trump weighs trips to the affected communities — the Federal Aviation Administration advised pilots of a presidential visit Wednesday to El Paso and Dayton, Ohio — local lawmakers signalled opposition to his presence.

Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat who represents El Paso, said Trump is “not welcome” to visit the city.

In recent weeks, the president has issued racist tweets about four women of colour who serve in Congress, and in rallies has spoken of an “invasion” at the southern border. His reelection strategy has placed racial animus at the forefront in an effort that his aides say is designed to activate his base of conservative voters, an approach not seen by an American president in the modern era.

READ MORE: Boy, 6, among victims of California festival shooting

Trump also has been widely criticized for offering a false equivalency when discussing racial violence, notably when he said there were “very fine people, on both sides,” after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in the death of an anti-racism demonstrator.

On gun control, a majority of Americans have consistently said they support stronger laws, but proposals have stalled repeatedly in Congress, a marked contrast to some countries that have acted swiftly after a mass shooting.

In March, a poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found a majority of Americans favour stricter gun laws. The survey was conducted both before and after a mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand. It found that 67 per cent of Americans support making US gun laws stricter, while 22 per cent say they should be left as they are and 10 per cent think they should be made less strict.

Less than a week after the mosque shootings, New Zealand moved to ban “military-style” semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines; similarly, after a mass shooting in 1996, Australia enacted sweeping gun bans within two weeks.

The poll suggested many Americans would support similar measures, but there’s a wide gulf between Democrats and Republicans on banning specific types of guns. Overall, 6 in 10 Americans support a ban on AR-15 rifles and similar semi-automatic weapons. Roughly 8 in 10 Democrats, but just about 4 in 10 Republicans, support that policy.

Zeke Miller, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Uplands Park Elementary School. (News Bulletin file)
COVID-19 cases reported at Uplands Park, McGirr, Dover Bay schools

Contact tracing completed by Island Health, says Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools

Team Canada supporters watch a men’s hockey game on a TV screen at Diana Krall Plaza in February 2010. (News Bulletin file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Hopefully B.C. hosts Olympics again someday

Letter writer reminisces about 2010 Winter Games and the spirit they brought to the city

The Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce has asked Nanaimo city council to consider a commercial property tax freeze to help offset negative financial impacts of COVID-19. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo council asks for report on potential one-year commercial property tax freeze

Report based on chamber of commerce proposal to ease COVID-19 stress on business community

Literacy Central Vancouver Island’s IPALS program – parents as literacy supporters in immigrant communities – recently secured another five years of funding from senior levels of government. (Photo submitted)
Literacy program working for immigrant families in Nanaimo

Literacy Central Vancouver Island’s IPALS program sees funding extended another five years

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen to field COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

“Our biggest challenge has been the amount of vaccine,” said FNHA acting chief medical officer Dr. Shannon McDonald. (First Nations Health Authority Facebook photo)
All First Nations on reserve to be vaccinated by end of March: First Nations Health Authority

Vaccinations continuing for B.C. First Nations amid shortages

(Delta Police Department photo)
B.C. youth calls 911 after accruing $7K in online gaming charges

‘Police spoke with the student about appropriate times to call 911’

Site C will go ahead, one year later and $5.3 billion more, the NDP announced Feb 26. (BC Hydro image)
B.C. NDP announces Site C will go ahead with new $16B budget

Reviews recommend more oversight, beefed up foundation stability work

Shannon Davis, manager at Sidney’s Star Cinema, holds up the largest available bag of popcorn available for sale at the theatre. It also also sells four smaller sizes in generating revenue following its closure last fall because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Vancouver Island theatre can’t give you movies, but it can serve popcorn

Sidney’s Star Cinema using popcorn sales to prop up COVID-plagued bottom line

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Most Read